Politics

La Raza: Carrying Obama’s agua

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Rob Bluey
Contributor

The National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group that frames nearly every national policy debate as a Latino issue, will hear a speech from President Obama today, as the president delivers his latest sales pitch to Hispanics. La Raza regularly mirrors the White House message on a range of topics, and a careful look at the nation’s largest Hispanic advocacy organization reveals a high level of messaging coordination with the White House.

Cecilia Muñoz has served as the Obama administration’s director of intergovernmental affairs from the very beginning. Muñoz was previously La Raza’s senior vice president in charge of research, advocacy and legislation.

Her tenure at the White House has coincided with a sharp increase in federal funding for La Raza, according to a recent Judicial Watch investigation. This flow of funds has only solidified the group’s advocacy for liberal policies that solidify the Obama administration’s position among a key constituency of Hispanics.

La Raza is officially nonprofit and nonpartisan, but its president, Janet Murguía, has donated overwhelmingly to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  And the group’s stance on policy issues consistently conforms with those of the Democratic Party.

During the past two weeks’ debt-limit debate, La Raza has opposed changes to government-run health programs for low-income families, urging lawmakers to “keep their hands off the Medicaid.”

“Never has it been so clear that the health and welfare of Latinos is at stake,” one breaking alert from La Raza warned. “Last-minute budget negotiations continue to keep Medicaid cuts on the table, keeping the insurance of Latinos and millions of other Americans on a lifeline.”

Another alert from La Raza cautioned: “With all of the talk about balancing the budget, there are too many leaders keeping quiet about the hundreds of billions of dollars at risk in the Medicaid program, an essential source of health insurance for Latino children, families, and the elderly.”

These messages align with talking points coming from the White House and congressional Democrats. Both have resisted substantive reforms to entitlement programs, including Medicaid.

La Raza has also advocated for Elizabeth Warren to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren, who is not Hispanic, was the subject of a June 2 policy update from La Raza that lobbied for her confirmation.

“Warren has a long history of fighting for consumers,” the update read. “She has made frequent site visits throughout the nation — including to [La Raza’s] Affiliates — to assess the fallout of the economic crisis. She knows how our families struggle. However, petty politics is rearing its ugly head once again, and some members of Congress are trying to weaken the CFPB’s influence by denying Warren’s appointment and maintaining the status quo.”

Warren, an Obama ally, ultimately lacked serious confirmation support, and last week President Obama tapped Richard Cordray instead. La Raza hasn’t commented on the White House’s course-correction.